Living with Multiple Sclerosis: 7 MS Tips to Navigate a Recent Diagnosis

Approximately one million people live with multiple sclerosis, but every one of those people has a unique experience of living with the disease. If you were recently diagnosed, these MS tips can help: from how to find treatment, to where to go for extra support.

While no multiple sclerosis journey is the same, there are MS tips that can make a new diagnosis easier to navigate.

Knowledge is your best friend when it comes to navigating an MS diagnosis. Thanks to advances in healthcare and technology, people with MS are living full lives. Knowing about your disease and how it impacts you can help you better communicate with your healthcare team and loved ones on how to best manage your symptoms. If you have recently been diagnosed with MS or want to know how to support a family member or friend, here are 7 MS tips for managing your diagnosis.

1. Track your symptoms

Multiple sclerosis can change over time, becoming quite unpredictable. It’s important to monitor yourself and report anything new or strange to your healthcare team.

It may help to keep a daily log of your symptoms, noting the time, frequency, and severity of the symptoms you experience. Being able to identify patterns or worsening symptoms earlier can prevent additional pain and discomfort. Plus, tracking MS symptoms will help your healthcare team find appropriate ways to manage your diagnosis before it progresses further.

FlexCare has the highest approval rate of second-course Tepezza referrals. Contact us if your second course of treatment was previously denied.

2. Start treatment as soon as possible

Even in the early stages, multiple sclerosis can cause irreversible damage. Permanent neurological damage may occur in people with progressive MS when the myelin covering surrounding nerve fibers is destroyed.

If you are experiencing symptoms of MS or have been recently diagnosed, it’s essential to begin proper treatments to manage your disease as soon as possible. Cognition begins to decrease at the onset of MS and there is evidence to suggest that cognition may be affected 5-10 years before clinical manifestation. Current medical research suggests that starting treatment around initial symptom onset gives patients the best chance of reducing long-term disability.

3. Avoid MS triggers

Stress or overheating can make MS symptoms worse, so try to be kind to your body.

There is no firm scientific proof that stress can worsen symptoms of MS, but there is a link between long periods of stress and heightened symptoms or relapses. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Trust, there is evidence that stress management can slow down the development of brain lesions and damage to new areas of the brain and spinal cord.

Heat and humidity can also worsen MS symptoms. That’s because elevated temperatures further limit already damaged nerves from sending signals. Hot baths or showers, exercise, and sunbathing have been known to cause blurred vision in some people with MS—known as Uhthoff’s phenomenon. Some people who experience Uhthoff’s phenomenon may also have balance issues, pain, fatigue, or cognitive symptoms.

Do your best to manage stress levels̶—meditation, light exercise, and deep breathing can all be beneficial in preventing an MS trigger. Avoid spending extended time in the heat or humidity. If you are outside or in the heat, try to stay in shaded areas or take frequent breaks indoors to cool off.

4. Focus on your sleep schedule

MS has a negative impact on sleep. It’s not uncommon for people with multiple sclerosis to experience nighttime leg spasms, narcolepsy, or insomnia. Quality sleep is critical for brain function, so it’s important to address sleep issues with your doctor or medical team.

Some find it helpful to limit caffeine use in the afternoon and evening and to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Avoiding drinking fluids closer to bed can also help reduce the need to urinate throughout the night.

Sometimes, medications may be prescribed to help improve your sleep. Your provider may recommend melatonin or prescription sleep aids such as eszopiclone or zolpidem. For MS patients with narcolepsy, modafinil can prevent excessive sleepiness throughout the day.

5. Incorporate exercise

Frequent exercise has been shown to improve strength and may lead to better functioning of the bladder and bowels. High-impact activities aren’t necessary to get your body moving—swimming, yoga, and gentle walking are all great options for people with MS.

To help prevent exercise-related injuries, make sure to stretch before and after movement, and drink plenty of water. You should always talk with your doctor about your exercise plan. They will be able to provide MS tips for exercise and ensure you are moving your body safely.

6. Decide who needs to know about your MS diagnosis

This is your life and your disease, and you are in no way obligated to share it with anyone you aren’t comfortable sharing it with. Many people seek support from family and friends when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. However, only you can determine who can offer you support, and those who may cause you further stress.

You may choose to include a trusted family member or friend to accompany you to appointments. You also have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act if you decide to tell your employer about your diagnosis. Whomever you choose to tell, seeking support from those who can offer positive support will make managing your disease easier.

7. Find the right doctor

An MS diagnosis requires lifelong management, so you’ll want a doctor you can trust and are comfortable working with. If you need help finding the right doctor, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a resource for finding MS doctors near you. They also have other great resources and MS tips.

Consider commute distance, or if your provider offers telehealth visits. If you are receiving infusion therapy for MS, determine where you would receive treatment. Ambulatory infusion centers are often a comfortable, more private alternative to hospital infusion centers.

FlexCare provides outpatient infusion therapy for multiple sclerosis treatment in locations across Oklahoma, Arizona, and Alabama. Our infusion suites offer comfortable amenities, walk-up parking, and convenient hours. Contact a member of our team or ask your provider to send your infusion therapy referral to FlexCare Infusion Centers. We would love to help you feel better.

Cecilia Wilborn, Operations

Derrick Swetlishoff

VP of Managed Care & Contracting

Derrick Swetlishoff joined FlexCare in December 2023 and is thrilled to be part of this talented and innovative team. Derrick comes to FlexCare with over 15 years in the home infusion and specialty pharmacy contracting space. Derrick obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of British Columbia and his master’s degree in health administration from the University of Missouri.

Derrick and his wife, high school son, and pet rabbit live in Phoenix, Arizona. While home life today is driving back and forth to high school varsity and club swim practices to support his son’s competitive swim ambitions, Derrick finds time to run, play golf, and is blessed to enjoy travel off the beaten path with family. Derrick stays involved in the community with Church and Brophy College Preparatory.

FlexCare is not currently accepting referrals for Benlysta due to a national backorder issued by the manufacturer (GSK). Our team is currently unable to determine the duration of this shortage and is recommending steps be taken by patients and providers to transition to an alternative therapy. Please close this box to view referral forms or possible alternative therapies. If you would still like to access the Benlysta referral form please click here. 

Cecilia Wilborn, Operations

Cecilia Wilborn

Operations Director

Cecilia Wilborn joined FlexCare in early 2022 as Operations Manager and assisted in the achievement of the organization’s accreditation before assuming the role of Operations Director in 2023.

Cecilia earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas – Rock Chalk Jayhawk! She brought to FlexCare 10 years of experience in infusion therapy operations, specializing in data organization and analysis, quality assurance for clinical documentation, and editing and proofing of publications.

Cecilia currently resides in Kansas with her husband, son, and spoiled pets. In her spare time, she loves trail running, baking, and traveling. She and her husband love traveling so much that in 2021 they lived in a small travel trailer with their cat and dog for six months, visiting 47 states and 41 national parks.

Aaron Smith, CEO & Co-Founder

Aaron Smith

CEO, Co-Founder

Aaron Smith partnered with Callie Turk to start FlexCare Infusion Centers after learning firsthand the profound impact specialty infusion can have on patients and the challenges they often encounter on the journey to effective treatment. There is an unprecedented opportunity to improve access, delivery, and outcomes through better communication, technology, and operations. At FlexCare Infusion Centers, his team works hard to make the changes the patients deserve to see.

Aaron joined the healthcare sector 25 years ago when he co-founded a disease management software company focused on patient outcomes collection and ambulatory clinic accreditation. He entered population health through an acquisition of Healthways and later entered specialty medications with Briova – an Optum company. His FlexCare team routinely makes the impossible possible through expertise, good process, cutting edge technology, data-driven decision making, and a lot of listening.

Makenna Lang, Director

Makenna Lang

Director of Clinical Services

Makenna Lang joined FlexCare in 2021 as the Managing Nurse Practitioner in Birmingham. In 2023, she assumed the role of National Director of Clinical Services. Makenna oversees protocol optimization, patient safety, and clinical procedures.

Makenna holds an MSN and FNP-C certification from Samford University. Previously, Makenna worked as an ENT nurse before earning her certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) in 2018.

Makenna is married to Wes, and together they have two cats, Ralphie and Beans. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, playing trivia and board games with friends, and has recently taken up skateboarding as a hobby.

Heather Randel, Director

Heather Randel

Director of Revenue Cycle Management

Heather Randel joined FlexCare in 2020 and led the development of the Intake team before taking over Revenue Cycle Management in 2022. Heather has 10 years of medical RCM experience in ambulatory, specialty pharmacy, and home infusion. Previously, Heather was the Assistance Director of RCM in Intake for a Specialty Pharmacy and Home Infusion service in Kansas.

Currently, Heather oversees RCM for FlexCare’s ambulatory infusion services and specialty pharmacy. She lives in Olathe, KS with her husband and two children.

Rebekkah Jackman, Director

Rebekkah Jackman

Director of Patient Access

Rebekkah Jackman joined FlexCare Infusion Centers in 2019 as a Managing Nurse Practitioner and Specialty Biologics Clinical Reviewer before assuming the role of Director of Patient Access in 2022. Rebekkah heads FlexCare’s industry-leading Intake team and ensures FlexCare patients experience the shortest time to treatment.

Rebekkah graduated from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center where she earned her Master of Science Degree in Nursing with a Family Nurse Practitioner emphasis. She has over 16 years of experience in patient care and is passionate about infusion therapy and best serving our patients.

Rebekkah lives in Oklahoma City with her 3 kids and her dog. When she’s not keeping busy with her kids, you can find her in her craft room.

Matthew Holden, VP Operations

Matthew Holden

Vice President of Operations

Matt Holden is an acute care Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of committed service to the patients in his community. Matt joined FlexCare in 2021 as a Managing Nurse Practitioner and led the launch of the first FlexCare location in Alabama before assuming the role of Vice President of Operations in 2023.

Matt received his BSN from Auburn University before earning his MSN from Vanderbilt University. His experience includes Intensive Care, Transplant Medicine, Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Outpatient Care. Prior to joining FlexCare, Matt developed and launched two new service lines for an outpatient cardiology group in Alabama.

Matt and his wife Rachel reside in Birmingham, AL with their two pets, Addie and Jenkins.

Austin Wickersham, VP of Technology

Austin Wickersham

Vice President of Technology

Austin Wickersham joined FlexCare in 2020 as a software consultant before assuming the role of Vice President of Technology in 2021. He led the initiative to build a custom-developed enterprise software solution that supports and enhances FlexCare’s vital Intake team, and later led the projects to create data and reporting systems to support all departments. He oversees FlexCare’s software, data, IT, and communications projects.

Austin graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in mechanical engineering. His focus on electromechanical systems quickly led to a passion for automation and building software and data solutions. After gaining experience as a software and applications engineer, he started a software consulting company and has launched several enterprise web, desktop, and mobile applications.

Austin lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, Skye, and two kids. In his free time, you can find him on the running trail, golf course, or playing games and sports with his family and friends.

Rick Yerondopoulos, Executive VP

Rick Yerondopoulos

Executive Vice President, Pharmacy

Rick Yerondopoulos professional trajectory took him into leadership just 3 years after obtaining his Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) from the University of Arizona. His desire to be a business leader in the world of pharmaceuticals and operations drove him to complete two post-graduate residencies in Milwaukee, WI, with a heavy concentration on administration leadership.  Rick was selected to represent the state of Wisconsin in a joint venture with the state of Iowa at the 2007 Young Pharmacy Leaders Conference.

After a successful launch to his career in Milwaukee, WI, Rick returned to Arizona to be closer to his extended family.  In Arizona, he oversaw all pharmaceutical operations of the hospital-based outpatient clinics at HonorHealth, where he met his future business partner, Mark Kharoufeh.  Rick and Mark co-founded InfuseAble Care in Scottsdale, AZ, in 2020.  When FlexCare acquired InfuseAble Care in 2021, Rick transitioned to EVP of Pharmacy, leading the supply chain and procurement initiatives across the enterprise.  With the recent acquisition of a specialty pharmacy, Rick extended his purview to include oversight of this valuable service line.

Rick currently resides in Scottsdale, AZ with his wife.  His son attends Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ.

Mark Kharoufeh, Executive VP

Mark Kharoufeh

Executive Vice President, Business Development and Expansion

Mark Kharoufeh began his journey in healthcare almost 30 years ago as a pediatric oncology nurse at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. His evolution in healthcare through various clinical, leadership, and executive roles and a passion for customer service led him down a successful path of business operations. In 2012, Mark was a finalist for AZ Business Magazine’s “Healthcare Professional of the Year” for his leadership in an all-inclusive care under one roof ambulatory healthcare service model. Mark obtained his MBA from Grand Canyon University in 2015 and completed the University of Arizona Eller Executive Leadership Program in 2019.

Mark’s dedication to enhancing access to healthcare and a model that always places the patients and their caregivers at the center of every visit was the impetus for teaming up with Rick Yerondopoulos and establishing InfuseAble Care in November 2020. Through Mark and Rick’s reputation in Arizona for reliable and service-oriented healthcare, InfuseAble Care’s brand quickly became the trusted ambulatory infusion center for physicians to refer their patients to around the state. Mark and Ricks’s goals of scaling InfuseAble Care nationally came to fruition upon meeting Aaron Smith, Callie Turk, and Adam Midkiff of FlexCare and RC Capital and ultimately joined FlexCare Infusion via acquisition in December 2021.

Since uniting with FlexCare to provide a reimagined infusion experience across the country, FlexCare has grown to 30 ambulatory centers across three states.

Mark currently resides in Litchfield Park, AZ with his wife, two sons, daughter, and labradoodle Eevee.

Adam Midkiff, CSO

Adam Midkiff

Chief Strategy Officer

Adam Midkiff joined FlexCare in 2023, though he has been involved with the organization from the early stages. He is excited by FlexCare’s mission to provide better access and high-quality care to patients in cost appropriate settings. Prior to joining FlexCare, Adam was a private equity investor with RC Capital, and he helped architect the partnership between FlexCare and RC. Prior to Adam’s experience in healthcare private equity, he was an investment banker in New York City and involved in numerous M&A and capital raising transactions.

Adam currently resides in Cincinnati, OH with his wife and two kids. He serves on the board of the Cincinnati Healthcare Professionals Network, a group of healthcare leaders with a common goal to advance healthcare innovation within the Cincinnati ecosystem. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in finance. In his spare time, Adam can be found on a soccer field or a golf course.

Jack Weston, CFO

Jack Weston

CFO

Jack Weston joined FlexCare in 2023, after most recently serving as CFO and COO of Lighthouse Behavioral Health Solutions in Central Ohio. Lighthouse focuses on improving the lives of those suffering from substance abuse disorder by combining a suite of services in an outpatient setting along with recovery housing. Prior to Lighthouse, Jack had stints in corporate accounting and finance roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Omnicare, and Procter & Gamble. Additionally, he embarked on an entrepreneurial journey over the last decade, beginning with a hospitality business that has grown from a single, urban sports bar to 8 bar, restaurant, and brewery locations opened in 10 years. He also opened and sold a boutique fitness studio.

Jack graduated from Miami University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. He resides in Cincinnati, OH, where he can often be found on the golf course or trying to stay active by chasing around his young kids with his wife, Anna.